Spend time to gain time: Prioritising relationships at work

“I’m busy” is often the response received when checking in with business leaders or owners on how things are going. Yet, what does “I’m busy” really mean for most? An investigation often reveals time is not the issue, rather it is a matter of urgency versus importance, and trusting in others to do what is right for the collective goals of the business. In other times, it is a convenient excuse for “it was not important.” Whatever the reason for throwing out this response though, it is time to take stock and rethink how to overcome challenges you face as a business leader in terms of how you spend time to handle relationships at work, no matter the size of your organisation.

Time is a finite resource and should be spent wisely. For business owners who are highly passionate and involved in their company, delegation can prove to be a challenge. However, for long-term business growth, this is counter-productive. Steve Jobs famously said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Investing in your employees and empowering them to have the freedom to do their personal best will result in success for your company. Employees who are engaged and trusted will be motivated to work hard, and account for their decisions made for the collective success of the company.

The underlying challenge in delegating tasks boils down to trust and having a strong relationship with your team members. Spending sufficient time to build these necessary relationships from the outset will result in business gains down the line. As relationships are strengthened and delegation comes more naturally, leaders are really accumulating time to work on issues that deserve their focus and attention.

So how can you manage your time well and spend it effectively on what truly matters?

Whenever you’re tempted to say “I don’t have time for this,” consider saying “it’s not my priority.” A simple but powerful way of reframing the language used in everyday life, this method will crystalise whether a task is worth your time and investment.

One exercise worth doing is listing your responsibilities at work, and rating them on a scale of ten based on their importance to you. Repeat the exercise, but this time based on the amount of time you commit to them. Compare the numbers in each column and the task is to close the gaps between the two.

In this instance, when faced with the option to spend 15 minutes of your day with a colleague to actively check in or continue working on a spreadsheet, consider asking yourself “Is Sarah a priority to me?” Once you’ve realised that your team members are invariably your most valuable asset for business growth, devoting time to nurture strong relationships will not become a challenge, and the excuses will quickly dissipate.

With an ever-growing to-do list, prioritising and delegating responsibilities is the only way forward. If you’re ever catching yourself saying “There’s not enough time for this,” it would be timely to start asking yourself, “How much of a priority is it?”

Daniel Healy, Facilitator, Leading Teams

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